6,000 lbs of trash from Lake Hiawatha turned into art display

Trash removed from Lake Hiawatha is now being put on display for an art exhibit to discourage pollution.

After spending several years removing garbage from a south Minneapolis lake, a local artist is putting the waste on display.

It's a new exhibit that's shedding light on pollution as well as serving as a call for action. It’s now on display at the White Page Gallery on 34th and Cedar in South Minneapolis.

“I think if everyone understood what was happening to the water, they would be outraged,” said Sean Connaughty, a University of Minnesota arts professor.

Connaughty is the leading force behind the exhibit, which is comprised of more than 6,000 pounds of trash pulled from Lake Hiawatha.

“We want to show that it is a problem, that it is a pollutant and that it should be measured and monitored and addressed,” he said.

FOX 9 met Connaughty in the summer of 2018 when he began calling attention to the mounting pollution and the growing threat to wildlife. 

“If nothing happens, then we’re throwing away this treasure of a lake, which is a beautiful place,” he said at the time.

It’s a neighborhood resource littered with everything from straws, discarded plastic bottles and toys.

Trash removed from Lake Hiawatha is now being put on display for an art exhibit to discourage pollution. (FOX 9)

“We are using the streets of Minneapolis as a trash can. Because of the scale of the watersheds that lead into our water and end up in Lake Hiawatha, [the amount] is pretty massive,” said Connaughty.

In his final survey of Lake Hiawatha, Connaughty transformed waste into displays of art, while raising alarm. 
 
“I’m actually optimistic that change is coming,” he said. “I’m pretty certain that change will come.”

Connaughty hopes that people see the pollution as an issue beyond littering and shows society's reliance on convenience.

The exhibit runs through November 24.